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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mamalogues Recap

It has been a week since the Mamalogues, and I have had some time to reflect on what an amazing night it was.  But it might not be for the reasons you expect.

A little ritual I do before every show is that I visit the space and say a prayer for each of the women who will be reading.  I also say a prayer for the audience to be open to receive what they have to say.  If anything, this helps calm my nerves and sets a good tone for the rest of the night.  I do this for most performing arts events. (My full time job is managing and publicizing music events). But, similarly when my dad has an art show or my brother has a concert, I will set the same intention.  Art is subjective, I realize this, and not everyone will like it.... that is the hard part, especially for a people pleaser. I just really really want people to enjoy it!

What people may not know is that when the idea of a staged show first came to my mind, I wasn't feeling very creative at all. In fact, I was in a really dark place.  I was at my rock bottom of postpartum depression and anxiety, and I received an invitation to meet some friends for dinner.  That was the last thing I wanted to do. I hated what my second pregnancy had done to my body. I didn't feel like I could be a fun person to be around. I just wanted to sit in the shower and let the water drown the negative voices in my head. But, somehow I ended up at dinner with about eight women, all of which had recently had babies.  We shared stories without judgement, and for a brief moment, I forgot about how sad I was. I returned home uplifted.  The collective energy of women is intoxicating and powerful.  We get together to celebrate happy times, but why is that when things get rough, we retreat to ourselves? That is when we need each other most. That is when the idea of the Mamalogues, a time where we could share stories openly, crossed my mind.

I was a tomboy growing up, and have always had more guy friends than girlfriends. I like to play sports and have played soccer the majority of my life.  Most of the time I spent with girls, it was on the soccer field.   I loved them like sisters.  (Still do.) There was no competition.  We all had a common goal, which was to do the best we could to win the game.  I never wished that our goalie Sarah would miss a shot, I wanted her to succeed. I never compared myself to Katie, the best defender (who I played soccer with for a decade) because we each had a different skill, that was equally important.  Yet, after college, I didn't have a team of my own anymore.  I found myself comparing myself to others, especially women.  The voice in my head would tell me they were prettier, thinner, smarter, more successful than me.   This is what happens when you are alone. You start to believe all those things.  The truth is, just because someone may have an amazing body, doesn't mean I don't. Because they have a great job, doesn't mean they didn't put in the damn hard work to get it.   Thier success isn't my failure.

We desperately need to celebrate our successes and support each other in our weaknesses.
When women are working together, we are a force to be reckoned with.  For me, it is a waste of time knocking other women down because of my own insecurities. A better use of my time is to inspire women.  To encourage them to take up more space and not less.   And I wanted to give them a platform to showcase who they are.

If you were there last Thursday, you witnessed just that.  In the five years that we have been doing this, I have never felt more support from the audience, and not just women,  men too, all ages. In an age of technology dominated our existence, it was refreshing to see everyone engaged.   What it comes down to, is we are all on the same team.

A man in his 60's stopped me  after the show and told me how much he enjoyed it.  He said, he expected it to be women complaining about men. ( For the record, complaining is boring, so we would never do that.) But what he found was that he went on a roller coaster of emotions, and he was so moved by the openness of everyone who shared her story.  Who would have thought that just the act of sharing a story and and exposing a bit of vulnerability could  be an act of bravery?

I did. That's who.

Kate told me that a woman stopped her as she was picking up her son from camp and shared that she could totally identify with Kate's piece about Sam.  That is the point of this whole show! Bringing people together and starting a dialogue about stuff, sometimes hard stuff, sometimes funny stuff, but all of that stuff matters.

Today I took three little girls to camp and I listened closely as they discussed their favorite part of the Wonder Woman movie.  I loved hearing them say that the fight scene was tied with Wonder Woman's ability to speak every language as their favorite part.  One girl said, "there is nothing she can't do."


It is a lesson for all of us.  But Wonder Woman could never have defeated anyone by herself. She needed the support of her friends and family. If she would have wasted time wondering if she was good enough, strong enough or whatever enough, to do it, she would have never tried.... and never saved the world.

We are certainly not saving the world with the Mamalogues, but we are saving ourselves. And maybe saving someone else when they need it most. And making great friends along the way.

It was just a crazy little idea I had, but because I took the small but scary step to act on it, I found my team again.  A team that is rooting for each other.

I'm beyond grateful for Kate for being awesome and being a rock when my insecurities start crashing over her and everyone in my path like waves of a tsunami.

And of course, thank you and Congrats to the 2017 team, Becky S., Natasha, Alison, Katherine, Amiee, Jenny, Amy, Jennifer, Maria, Becky C.  Jill, Sandy, Mandy, Tiphini, Kelli and Cherish.  You gals rocked.

And lastly, thank you to the audience who were just as part of the show as everyone else.

The next Mamalogues will take place in the summer of 2018.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Zero Fox Given

This past week we had a lot of exciting things happen.  To name a couple, my oldest son graduated from 8th grade.  Next, the pool opened, and it was also the first time I had worn a bathing suit since turning 40. Sure,  the first one is a milestone.  But I have to feel like the second one is too, except nobody throws you a party.

Here is the deal,  no matter how much you workout, it is still a little weird stepping out into public exposing yourself legally.  Especially in a climate that certain areas of your body don't see the light of day except two months out of the year.

Don and I had planned on going on a trip to Antigua, but his mom got sick, and he was needed there.  I had purchased two very little bikinis for the trip that are totally acceptable in a place like Antigua, and a place where you don't know anybody. But now I have these unworn bikinis that I'm thinking about wearing to our country club, where I know everybody and my son's teenage friends will be joining us.

When I turned 40 my singular goal was to live as authentically and true to myself as possible.  Basically, to give 0 fucks. But I guess I hadn't thought about this part of my authenticity. And if I'm going, to be honest, I give a lot of fucks. Or as I say in front of the boys, as not to cuss "Zero Fox".  I can't help it. I care so much about everything and everyone.  Including my son's feeling about me wearing a skimpy bikini in front of his friends.  Teen boys are awkward anyway, then you add a teen boy with a mom who is practically naked standing in front of them, all the fucks I'm not supposed to give are out on the table for everyone to see.

But I really like this bikini. It has pineapples on it.  When I purchased it, I pictured myself on a white sand beach lounging in the sun, and the only question I had to answer was " What kind of drink would you like?"  Now, I will be sitting on white cement, and the only question I will be hearing is " Will you fix my goggles?" and " Watch this!" (Over and over and over and over).

So, if only once, I decided to wear my bikini and try giving zero Fox as to what anyone thought, including my sons.   I went to my room and I put it on.  Why can't swimsuits fit like underwear?  They never do.  I walked over to the mirror and didn't open my eyes.
I could hear the gang of boys starting to get impatiant behind the door. Including Don.  They had put their suits on in  4 seconds and couldn't understand why it was taking me so long. But I was having an internal debate that was going on longer than I had anticipated.

I opened my eyes. I saw a 40-year-old woman in a pineapple bikini.  I started to tell myself that it was appropriate because Sponge Bob lives in a pineapple and I looked just like him right now.  Spongy torso and stretch marks and  "STOP" I told myself.

I could hear the people (who gave me the stretch marks that I  loath), chanting my name outside the door.  " Let's go!"

I was holding up my family for a fun day because of all the foxes I was giving.  Screw it, I thought. Here we go.

We arrived at the pool and I took off my cover-up and revealed my beach...I mean, pool body.  I stood half naked in public, and
nobody cared. Not a single person even looked in my direction.
Don was already asleep in his chair, and the boys were jumping off the diving board.

The boys didn't even notice as they came up to me and asked me if they could order shakes. To them, I'm just mom.  When Don finally woke up, he said, " Is that suit new?"  "Yes." I said.  He then takes out his phone to take a picture of me.  And not at the good angle. The angle that is from below and too close and why the hell does he think this is a good time to take a picture of me?!

And then something hit me.  A woman who I just met, who I admire and who will be performing in the next Mamalogues told a story about just taking the picture.  To get over your hang ups, and just allow a normal, everyday picture to be taken.  A picture that is real and authentic (damn it, that's my 40 year old goal) and that when the boys see it some day, it will be exactly like they remember.

I have a photo of my mom like that.  I love it; she is in a bikini laying out in the sun and I'm wearing one too right next to her. She looks like she is giving zero fox and damn it, here I am in the exact same situation and I'm freaking out about sponge bob and stretch marks.  Did I ever look at my mom and think....eew? No. I just remember her spending time with me hanging out in the sun. (In the glorious 1980's on a silver tanning blanket without sunscreen I might add.)

I want to be that woman.   So, I agreed, he could take the picture as long as he didn't post it on any social media platform.  He did, just like my Dad had done, he took the picture of my mom and me.

The day ended and not a single one of my boys said anything about my bikini.  I even got a little sun and had fun.

When I looked at the picture Don had taken, I saw what he saw. Not a self-conscious Mommy.   It was Oscar proudly standing behind me with his goggles on, a shake in one hand and the other on my shoulder.  Not giving a thought in the world other than summer and ice cream.

And with that.  I began my quest for a summer with zero foxes.